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Human Capital in History

The American Record

America’s expansion to one of the richest nations in the world was partly due to a steady increase in labor productivity, which in turn depends upon the invention and deployment of new technologies and on investments in both human and physical capital. The accumulation of human capital—the knowledge and skill of workers—has featured prominently in American economic leadership over the past two centuries.
Human Capital in History brings together contributions from leading researchers in economic history, labor economics, the economics of education, and related fields. Building on Claudia Goldin’s landmark research on the labor history of the United States, the authors consider the roles of education and technology in contributing to American economic growth and well-being, the experience of women in the workforce, and how trends in marriage and family affected broader economic outcomes. The volume provides important new insights on the forces that affect the accumulation of human capital.

432 pages | 2 halftones, 61 line drawings, 49 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2014

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Business--Industry and Labor, Economics--History


“Through her own scholarship, the many doctoral students she has supervised, and her leadership of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Development of the American Economy Program, Claudia Goldin has played an outsized role in shaping the practice standards, and approaches of the economic history profession today. . . . The essays in this volume represent a fitting tribute to her contributions.”

Table of Contents


Leah Platt Boustan, Carola Frydman, and Robert A. Margo

1. Technical Change and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labor: The United States in Historical Perspective
Lawrence F. Katz and Robert A. Margo

2. Explaining Trends in High School Graduation: The Changing Elementary and Secondary Education Policy Landscape and Income Inequality over the Last Half Century
Nora Gordon
Comment: Sarah J. Reber

3. The Role of Immigrant Children in Their Parents’ Assimilation in the United States, 1850–2010
Ilyana Kuziemko and Joseph Ferrie

4. Health, Education, and Income in the United States, 1820–2000
Hoyt Bleakley, Dora Costa, and Adriana Lleras-Muney

5. The Female Labor Force and Long-Run Development: The American Experience in Comparative Perspective
Claudia Olivetti
Comment: Francine D. Blau

6. The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women’s Labor Force Participation
Leah Platt Boustan and William J. Collins

7. Cohabitation and the Uneven Retreat from Marriage in the United States, 1950–2010
Shelly Lundberg and Robert A. Pollak

8. Is There a Case for a “Second Demographic Transition”? Three Distinctive Features of the Post-1960 US Fertility Decline
Martha J. Bailey, Melanie Guldi, and Brad J. Hershbein

9. A Pollution Theory of Discrimination: Male and Female Differences in Occupations and Earnings
Claudia Goldin
Comment: Cecilia Elena Rouse

10. The Supply of Gender Stereotypes and Discriminatory Beliefs
Edward L. Glaeser and Yueran Ma

11. Claudia Goldin
Stanley L. Engerman

Author Index
Subject Index

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